A dog trip to Europe: travel rules and approved routes

Happy dog travelling in the car boot

With summer at the gates, I thought it would have been appropriate to start planning August holidays. To Italy. With my furry one. Having sold my car before moving to the UK, I have to find other ways to travel to the continent with my dog.

In the last two years I have tried two different solutions, both having pros and cons, i.e. travelling by van+ferry and by plane respectively, but this year I decided to attempt a new kind of adventure

Because the logical step before planning an overseas trip is to be aware of the legal rules for travelling with your dog, this week I thought to start with a post containing the basic information about the pet travel rules you need to be aware of.

From next week, I will publish one post a week about each means of transport, telling about my experience and giving you some information and tips and, finally, I will illustrate you my August travel plan!

I. Pet travel rules

First of all, if you want to travel from the UK to another European country and viceversa with your dog, you need to comply with certain pet travel rules. These are set out in European Regulation 576/2013 on the non-commercial movement of pet animals and in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 1152/2011, both applicable to travels to the UK. In addition, as detailed by an Explanatory Memorandum, in the UK it is (at least) also applicable the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order 2011, as amended by the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals (Amendment) Order 2014, which operates in the flexibility spaces granted by the European provisions and aims “to enable effective enforcement of the EU Pets Regulation in Grean Britain”.

The pet travel rules provided for in such statutory instruments, which apply if you travel with up to 5 dogs and not for animal commercial purposes, are summarised on the DEFRA’s website. Those are as follows:

1. Microchip

Your dog needs to be microchipped. This should not be an issue, because you should already have had your dog microchipped indipendently from travelling, since in the UK it became a compulsory requirement earlier this year (I spoke about this in detail in my earlier blogpost on dog microchipping).

Your dog will be scanned to detect the number of the microchip and this will be checked against the documents you will present (see next point).

2. Pet Passport

You will need to carry your dog’s European Pet Passport (issued by an authorised vet). This contains information about the dog, its owner, the microchip number and administered vaccinations and treatments (including the following required treatments). Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 577/2013 of 28¬†June 2013 established the model for the European pet passport.

If you are travelling or returning from a country which is not member of the EU and unlisted you will need further documents.

3. Rabies vaccination

Rabies vaccination must be done at least 21 days prior travelling (consider that the vacination date counts as day 0 and not day 1, as specified in this document), so check in advance and do not allow the vaccination to expire before treating again your dog. The minimum dog age for vaccination is 12 weeks.

Again, for traveling or returning from unlisted third countries, further requirements must be met, namely: – blood test taken at least 30 days after rabies vaccination; – waiting period of 3 months following blood sampling.

4. Treatment against tapeworm

To get from the continent to the UK you will need to treat your dog against tapeworm. The treatment must be certified by a veterinary in your pet passport (section ‘Echinococcus treatment’), and should be given to your dog from 1 to 5 days (24 to 120 hours) prior to border crossing. The vet should write both the date and the hour the tablet was given to the dog in your pet passport (see further indications in DEFRA’s guidance here).

The source of this rule can be found in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 1152/2011, which sets the measures for the prevention of the Echinococcus multilocularis, aka tapeworm, in dogs, including, at Article 7, an anti-tapeworm treatment containing praziquantel or other effective substance, to be given to the dog not more than 120 and not less than 24 hours before the time of entry in specific Member States, including the UK (note that the Regulation should be reviewed this year). This is also recalled by Section 9 of the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order 2011.

You can find further information about pet travels in a guidance issued by the DEFRA, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government prior to the coming into force of the new rules here (and, for Northern Ireland, on Nidirect’s website here).

II. Approved routes

Secondly, before planning your route, you have to be aware that you will be only allowed to enter the UK with your dog via one of the approved routes (as detailed below). Check points are in operation prior to boarding for rail and ferry and upon landing for flights.

1) Air routes – Coming back to the UK, you will not be able to travel by any inbound flight of your choice, but only via the ones offered by the airlines listed in this Pet travel: approved air routes document.

2) By sea or rail – Also, if you are travelling by sea or rail you have to choose among the approved routes from the Pet travel: routes by sea and rail document.

3) By charter – Finally, charter flights allowed are detailed in the Pet travel: charter routes by air.

You will still need to check with each company their conditions for the transport of pets.


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